Lessons From Motherhood

1. Always remember the role of motherhood is the greatest blessing.

2. Your children’s behaviors are not who they are. Don’t personalize it. They are good and whole people no matter what.

3. If you’re going to choose to do one thing, floss their teeth every night.

4. Keep telling them you love them.

5. Keep telling them they can do it.

6. Keep telling them to put their clothes in the hamper.

7. Teach them that their grandparents still matter.

8. Teach them that they matter.

9. Limit their screen time.

10. Don’t tell people you limit their screen time.

11. Give them a journal to write in.

12. Read their journal at night while they’re sleeping.

13. Look into their eyes when they’re talking to you.

14. And then tell them no as often as possible.

14. Hold their hand whenever you get the chance.

15. Make sure to listen to their small feet running around the house.

16. Let them sleep in your bed when they’re scared.

17. Embrace them for exactly who they are.

18. Who they are is going to be different than who you want them to be.

19. Don’t let your expectations blur your ability to see them. Trust them.

20. Always remmeber that you’re doing a tremendous job. I believe in you.

We All Need A Protective Shell

I recently gave birth to my baby, Shaina Sarah, and then immediately after was slapped in the face with Co-vid.
First I had a baby then my husband, kids, mother in law and myself got Co-vid.
We were all home together for almost 28 days. The experience left me feeling extremely winded.
You know when you find yourself crying so hard, that even after it’s over, you’re still shaken up by how hard you were crying? That’s a lot of what I felt while going through post partum and Co-vid. My days were spent taking one step at a time and then pausing to cry it out. I remember when I got Co-vid, I was sitting in my head having coffee. My baby, 2 weeks old at the time, was in my left arm and my 2 year old daughter was sitting on my right side watching Baby Shark on the Google Hub. I remember thinking to myself, “okay, maybe I can do this.”
Then my daughter knocked over my coffee and it spilled all over my bed. Then I thought to myself, “if I’m going to do this, I’m definitely going to need another coffee.” Now I look back and think to myself, how the hell did I do that?
I think what truly helped me was creating a protective shell for myself.
So imagine a turtle with a hefty midriff all exposed with vulnerability and fear.
Now imagine that turtle, still with a hefty midriff, but this time with a shell around it so there’s somewhere to reprieve into when things get overwhelming.
My home was very much my protective shell.

I’ve spent years collecting and putting together my home so when the time came for me to be home, I was able to enjoy it while I sat around and cried – I want this for you as well. I want you to have moments for yourself around your home while you sit around and cry.
Whether you’re home because you’ve been exposed, or you have Co-vid, or you’re scared of Co-vid, or you have a chronic illness, or you just had a baby, or because you feel bloated and you only want to wear sweatpants, or you’re fighting with your husband, or you’re avoiding life, having your home be your own personal protective shell is so important. Your home is here to nurture you.

“Enjoy the little things in life for one day you’ll look back and realize they were the big things.” – Kurt Vonnegut

Let’s start with the small but very big moment of drinking coffee.
If you enjoy your coffee, make sure every element of drinking coffee is celebrated.
Whichever way you make your coffee, be close enough to take in the aroma.
Pour your coffee into a beautiful mug, one that you feel connected to.
If you can froth your milk, almond milk, oat milk or whatever liquid you use, do it.
Sprinkle some cinnamon on top.
Find a place in your home that’s quiet – if you have kids, wake up 3 hours before your kids to achieve this – and sit down to sip your coffee.
While you’re sipping your coffee, watch the light slowly stream into your home as the day begins.
Something as simple as drinking coffee can uplift you just by creating more space and joy around it.

Everything in your home can be shifted to create a more nurturing and supportive space.

Make your bed every morning so when it’s time to get into bed, you feel excited.
Spray your pillows with lavender oil.
I have 75 different essential oils next to my bed that I inhale every night.
Keep hand lotion by your bed so you feel taken care of.
Place a small frame by your nightstand with a picture that makes you smile. It can be a trip, a place, a sonogram of your first pregnancy or a mundane moment of your day. It just needs to mean something to you.
When you take a shower, spray your bathroom with eucalyptus so you feel like you’re at a spa.
Hang your bathrobe on a hanger instead of a hook so it feels like you’re in a hotel. Trust me, it works.
Play your favorite playlist while you’re home cooking dinner for children who wont eat it. Surround yourself with a scent that you love, even if it’s during the day and you’re the only one home, you’re enough. Buy cleaning products that smell like geranium and lilac so when you’re cleaning your kitchen table after breakfast, you inhale goodness.
Sip water from a glass cup.
Surround yourself with colors that feel safe to you.

I want to point out the importance of neutral colors when creating a nurturing environment. Neutral colors are so intertwined into our lives and they have so much value and beauty. It’s the neutral colors that everything else is layered into. You need that strong base to build on in order to create something really special.
Never underestimate the right off white. Once they’re in place, you can start bringing in colors and textures that you love. And if you’re Athena Calderone, this is when you can start bringing in the linens and vintage vessels.
We all want a space that feels nurturing and supportive and it’s available for all of us to create #protectiveshell.

You don’t need to wait until you’re stuck at home, take the time now to slowly build your home so that when you need it, it will be there for you.

My Favorite Neutral Colors

Pale Oak by Benjamin Moore
This color feels like someone giving you a tight hug but still leaving you room to breathe. It is a soft white that leans more on the beige side – which means in a home that is really BRIGHT this color will look more yellow. In most homes however it’s a beautiful white that has substance and depth like when you add frothed milk to your latte.

Gray Owl by Benjamin Moore
This color is one of my favorite neutrals. This is a grey with hints of mint green. This color does really well in sun filled rooms, both in the morning and in the afternoon. I painted this color in my apartment and because I was renting I only had one lonely over head light in the dining room, so the color read more green at night. When choosing this color I would suggest pairing it with warm lighting for that perfect balance. This color is the rock star of neutral greys.

Simply White by Benjamin Moore
This white is the best white I have found in my years of designing homes. It’s exactly what it says it is, it’s simply white. There are no under tones of blue, purple or yellow. It is just white. It works well in large rooms, bright rooms, trims, ceilings. It’s a gorgeous soft white that is not offering you any other color other than itself.

Ammonite by Farrow and Ball
I absolutely love this neutral color. It’s an understated grey that feels effortlessly sophisticated. I painted my home this color 2 years ago and I am still in love with it. It’s bright but soft. It’s neutral but sharp. It’s not too warm and not too cold. It creates a calm and inviting environment in an old or new home.

Old School White by Farrow and Ball
I love this color so much. It’s a soft off white with warm tones in it. It looks amazing on a textured wall or a brick wall. It has an old school feel, like it’s been around for a long time which adds character to what can otherwise be a “plain white wall.” This color is also so great because it looks good at night as well. It helps create a really warm and cozy atmosphere. Who doesn’t need that?

When I Say Baby, You Say Co-vid

I am so grateful to officially announce that Ezzy and I had a baby girl and her name is Shaina Sarah.

Ezzy and I had our baby on Monday night. We came home from the hospital on Wednesday night and Ezzy tested positive for Co-vid on Friday. I always plummet hard after a baby, but this plummet was like no other. This was the plummet of all plummets.

I was 4 days postpartum. I was walking around the house on shaky legs like a baby deer after it’s born. The insides of my body were in middle of playing a game of tetris trying to get itself back together. Every time I opened my mouth to talk, tears came out instead. I just had a baby, covid can’t hijack my post-partum. I’ve earned the right to stay in bed with my hand in a U shape waiting for coffee to be inserted into it. Im supposed to be sprawled out right now rehashing my birth story to ezzy who lost interest in the hospital room. Whos going to take care of the children? They’re too needy to be neglected. Thank you daniella for feeding them.

Within the next 10 days, everyone in the house tested positive

By the time I got covid, I was a mess. I was barely sleeping during the night or day. My doctor told me to wear a mask around the baby. But after two days ezzy told me to lose the mask in hopes of regaining my sanity. The kids were home coloring amazon boxes. The cleaning lady fled back to Peru out of fear of Co-vid. I was having bi-weekly emergency sessions with my therapist. I could no longer tate the 18 bars of chocolate I was inhaling. My coffee tasted like hot water. I couldn’t smell my baby’s breath. I couldn’t nuzzle her neck and inhale her scent.
I cried so hard that my stomach almost bounced up and slapped me in the face.

Postpartum mixed with covid was an experience I never anticipated, but somehow we crawled our way through it. Ezzy spent his quarantine time with us through a window. He propped himself up on a ladder to say Shema with the kids and see the baby. The kids had some very concentrated time with the new baby that otherwise wouldn’t of happened. Purim was spent in our home giving and receiving shalach manos by our door step – hands down the most relaxing purim I’ve ever had. The maror for Pesach was made with real tears, thank you mommy. After coming out of quaratnine, freedom never felt so good. The challenge of it all has gifted me with humility and perspective. Even with all the crying and all the chaos, I wouldn’t want it any other way.

It feels good to be here with you. How have you been ?

The Pre Post Partum

As I enter into the final countdown, I keep thinking about what it is I’m about to embark on and how unbelievably scary and exhilarating it feels.

When @ezwass and I had our first baby, we had a lot of opinions on how things needed to be done and how we wanted to raise our daughter. ‘Our daughter,’ how noble of us. One of the values we felt strongly about was no pacifier because we read an article about the importance of a baby being able to self soothe. The first weekend I was home from the hospital, I went to go lie down while my parents watched the baby. She started to cry so my parents tried to give her the pacifier. @ezwass and I started plummeting towards the situation, wanting to rescure her from the rubber monster. “You can’t give her the pacifier, she needs to learn to self soothe.” At the time we felt really proud of oursleves. We were taking charge and ownership of this new human. Now I look back and see the reality – we were young, first time parents who were inflated with information and guarded with inexperience.

It turned out, our baby cried a lot until she was 4 months old. It was colic and then it was acid reflux. The doctor prescribed a bunch of medications with directions, which we blindingly followed, and until today I still regret it. Sometimes I wonder if that’s why she’s more of an anxious child. And then I remind myself, it doesn’t matter.

This past summer, when I first started telling people I was pregnant, I got a lot of similar responses;

“Was it on purpose?”
“Wow, during Co-vid?!”
“Yes, during a pandemic.”
“When all your kids were home?”
“Yes, they had nowhere to go. No one else wanted them.”
“I can’t believe it, weren’t you struggling with them at home?!”
“Yes. I was struggling. It was really hard to help my kids with zoom school while I was hiding in the closet.”
It always feels great to be greeted with disapproving questions when you tell people you’re expecting.

People kept telling me, “you’ve done this before, it’s nothing, you know what to do.” First of all, this pregnancy still matters. Second of all, I’ve done this before so I understand how unbelievable this task is and that I know nothing. I thought over time and with experience I would have more confidence.  The only confidence I’ve gained is knowing that pregnancy and post partum is a privilege and I am grateful for the opportunity. I’ve gained confidence in knowing that pregnant women and mothers need less opinions and a lot more support. Sometimes it feels like being pregnant is a never ending series of interrogations that feels tortuous. Maybe it’s preparation for all the labor pains.

“My doctor said you can drink a full glass of wine every night.” (You need to find a new doctor)
“My doctor said no wine at all during the whole pregnancy.” (There’s an idea for a contraceptive)
“How are you feeling?” (I’m feeling good Thank G-d)
“You’re lucky, I felt like shit when I was pregnant.” (Congratulations for winning at being more pregnant)
“Do you normally get back labor?” (I have no fu**ing clue)
“I had the worst back labor.” (You win again)
“Are you going to have it natural?” (I just want to have the baby)
“Do you get the epidural?” (YES)
“I didn’t get the epidural.” (You’re a champion)
“Are you going to be nursing?” (Yes)
“It’s really important to nurse.” (I was bottle fed as a baby)
“If you’re going to bottle feed, get the organic brand made from uncaged cow’s milk that has no hormones.” (I’ll stick to the formula made from cow’s who are caged because I don’t care about my baby)

Here’s what I think is important to say,

To women who are pregnant, trying to get pregnant, deciding to stop getting pregnant,  raising children, struggling with children- What you’re doing is enough. You are strong and capable. You’re not the problem, it’s the children, they’re assholes. I am here to listen. I am here to support you. You are not alone.

I have always enjoyed my pregnancies and it’s not because they’re easy for me. I enjoy them because as my mother says, “it only gets harder once you have them.” #word. I’ve learned that during my pregnancy what I need most is support and relentless compassion. I want to forgive myself for being imperfect and love myself for being human. I believe we all need that in our lives and I’m taking it upon myself to carry this with me and apply it to the people in my life. We’re all doing great. Everyone is where they need to be. We’re all champions.

Continue reading “The Pre Post Partum”

This is my body right now

I was talking to my therapist a while ago about the struggle I have with my body. I told her how uncomfortable it is to be in my body most of the time. I saw her jot something down, then she got up and handed me a blue post it note that read, ‘this is my body right now.’
I still have that post it note.

I have spent years struggling with weight gain and binge eating. It started when I was 21 years old and I found myself eating my way through a hard marriage. It continued into my second marriage, this time playing out through each pregnancy. I gained 60 pounds in my first pregnancy. I would mindlessly eat ice cream until I was gut punched back into reality every time I stepped on the scale by the doctor’s office. “You’re gaining too much weight. It’s going to be harder for you to have a natural birth if you keep going at this rate.” The doctor would tell me consistently. There was something about the words, “at this rate”, that made me feel even more out of control and anxious.
I always left the office with my head down, carrying an emotional backpack full of self hatred, fear and empty promises for better eating.

After each pregnancy, I told myself, “I’m going to lose all the baby weight and get back to myself.” It worked some of the time and other times I would wake up knee deep in pasta and wonder how the hell I let myself get here.
I remember I was out shopping with a client for bathroom tiles. After a few hours of shopping, I got back to my car and realized I was starving. All I had packed was a small ziploc bag of “party style” mixed nuts. I poured the bag into my mouth. There was no party and I was still hungry. I used my hand to scramble on the floor looking for something to eat and found some leftover cookies. Thank G-d my kids were not skilled enough to get every cookie in their mouth.
I was sitting in the front seat of my car eating small cookies, one by one, off the floor of my car.
“This is why I’m fat. This is why I will never be attractive. I’m eating cookies off the floor of a dirty car like a caged monkey. There’s something wrong with me.”

I got to the point where I felt insecure all the time. Every time I got dressed, it was a disaster. Every time I saw myself in a picture, it ruined my night. I spent so much time and energy ripping myself apart that I felt hopeless. I considered myself invisible because of my weight.
I hid my body under black clothing.
I hid my ideas under silence.
I hid myself under the belief of being undeserving.

I started intuitive eating 2 years ago. I worked with Soshy Adelstein who dramatically helped me with my habits around food and binge eating.
It’s a complicated thing, intuitive eating.
How do we learn to understand our bodies and what it needs?
How do we learn to listen?
It’s easier to follow a way of eating because there’s relief in a solution.
It’s so much harder to let go and trust that you can figure it out.
It takes time.
It’s been 2 years and I’m still a beginner.

The treasure that I’ve found in this process is how I feel about myself. I have slowly come to a place where I feel deserving to BE HERE. I spent so much time holding onto this idea of ‘getting back to myself,’ that I had disconnected from my actual self. It was the thin Chana that mattered. It was the thin Chana who knew how to have fun. It was the thin Chana who people liked. I’ve spent so much time telling myself I don’t matter because of my body size, sometimes it feels hard to forgive myself.

“Being kind to yourself is one of the greatest kindnesses.” – Charlie Mackery

I am slowly learning to treat myself with compassion rather than judgment. I haven’t been on a diet in 2 years, I am more at peace with myself than I’ve been in a long time and I also still want to be thin. They both exist. The difference has been in the compassion. I have expectations and hopes for my body but I choose not to hate myself until I get there. I no longer torture myself for not having the body I “should have.”
This is my body right now.
This body is doing a hell of a lot of great things for me right now and for that I am eternally grateful.

It’s Been 10 Years

@ezwass and I went away for a few days to celebrate being married 10 years. It’s never easy getting away and always feels like an impossible thing to do. I left the house with this frantic energy, like a smurf with a to do list and so little time. I was excited it was happening but unable to get my head out of my phone. First it was an instacart order for eggs and seltzer. Then it was figuring out how my kids were getting to and from birthday parties. Then I saw an ad for new linen. Then I saw an add for feather pillows. Then I wanted @ezwass to stop talking so we can get pictures of us “getting away.” Then I needed mascara to look good in our pictures of “getting away.” It was a hard reality to face being that I pride myself on being present and unattached to my phone. I’m usually the one reprimanding @ezwass for not being able to put the phone away. I’m usually doing this with a self righteous attitude. Thank Gd @ezwass was there to gently help me off the high horse I was sitting on and happily remind me that we all struggle with being present. @ezwass thank you for keeping me humble, always.

We spent a lot of time reading and drinking coffee by the beach and it was as wonderful as it sounds. At one point a pack of teenage girls sat on the lounge chairs next to us. Then I started to be invaded by their conversations.

“I cant my believe you’ve been to Dubai, I want to go to Dubai. Thats crazy. “

Is it?

“If I don’t like jump into the water right now I’m literally going to have a heart attack.”

Ok, I’m waiting.

“You’re blocking the sun, only one leg is getting tanned.”

There’s less skin cancer for the other leg.

“I put the tanning oil all over my face, I like don’t even care if I break out.”

So why are you talking about it?

I turned to @ezwass and pleaded with him, “if we don’t find somewhere else to sit, my ears are going to start bleeding.”

We found a new place to sit. This time it was next to a woman who spent her poolside time on the phone declaring how she’s “taking calls all day.”

@ezwass thank you for knowing the dislike I had to that repeated statement and understanding my level of intolerance. I truly felt understood.

We had many conversations together. @ezwass asked me, “what are the core values you want our kids to grow up with and have in their own lives?”

“I just don’t want them to be assholes,” was my response.

“I think you should keep in mind, these are things we want to be able to discuss with our kids. Can I sum that up to be kind, be curious, be present ?”

“As long as they’re not assholes.” I responded again.

@ezwass thank you for your insights on all things life related, all of the time.

It’s been 10 years since we got married and we went away for a few days to celebrate that. We took the time to remember that our relationship is going to be the one to hold us always. It’s so easy to primarily focus on the relationships we have with our children because they require our immediate attention.

The reality is, our kids are only ours for a short period of time. We have about 18 years to teach them right from wrong and how to not be assholes, then they’re on their own. But our spouse, they’re the one who’s going to be there when we marvel at the speed that life has passed us by, and say “are we still talking about this?” They’re the one who’s going to be there to say, “I still see you.”

I pray that I’m lucky enough for that moment with @ezwass.

It’s been 10 years and I love you.

Life in 2021

I’m noticing that the year of 2021 is bringing along the aftermath of its predecessor 2020.
I, with the rest of the world, spent the better half of 2020 locked up inside because of a pandemic.
My reaction to being locked up was spending the better half of 2020 measuring myself by what I didn’t have rather than on what I do have.
This meant that everywhere I turned, someone was always ‘jumping online’ to sell me something and I was here to consume it all, like a panicked Sebastian looking for Ariel.
I felt like I needed better lounge clothing. A better coffee thermos. My cleaning products needed to be completely vegan. I needed new baking pans because I became a baker. A new apron. There was always a sale for limited stock – only for the next 24 hours. It didn’t feel like there was any time to be doing anything else in life.
I needed a new ‘radiance’ oil because my skin will thank me later.
My skin hasn’t thanked me yet, unless it came in the form of 3 sun spots that needed to be removed.

The feeling of constantly chasing the next thing to bring me life’s wonders has left me feeling more empty than anything else. Now that life has moved forward in this new reality, this bottomless barrel feeling is coupled with the stress of trying to work in an environment that consistently stops and starts, due to some type of exposure, and the feeling of making up for lost time. The combination leaves me standing in one place and staring at a wall for long periods of time due to a mental overload.

So I decided to put myself on a budget. The biggest motivator when making this decision was seeing that @ezwass developed a twitch in his left eye. If we’re being honest, I waited until day 3 of his uncontrollable twitch to start thinking about implementing change.

I don’t think the budget will affect my kids that much. I strongly believe in their ability to find the opportunities to make as many requests as humanly possible.
Like every day during carpool.
“Can you skip this song?”
“Leave this song, it’s a good one.”
“No wait, I thought it was another song, can you skip this song?”
“Can you make it louder?”
“Can you open the windows?”
“Can you close that window, I’m cold!”
“Can you put on the Greatest Showman playlist on Spotify?”

I want to turn around and shout,
“Do you know what it was like to be a passenger in my father’s car? The windows were not allowed to be open because he wasn’t providing AC to the streets. There was no music. There was no complaining. And if you didn’t like the smell of cigars, hold your breath.

Instead I usually turn and around and say, “This is the song we’re listening to now. If you don’t like it, sit through it. It will be over in less than 3 minutes.” Then I rest my head on the steering wheel and weep, because conscious discipline is exhausting and I only implement it 1% of the time.

The decision to put myself on a budget, for those of you who are more woke than me, shop with intention, is a starting point. It’s not going to take away from the laundry list of other mental health hazards life in 2021 has to offer. It’s my small way of creating a little more sense of peace in my life and to help me slightly shift my focus. My goal is to spend the better half of 2021 putting down the self measuring tape and truly see what and who I am surrounded by.
Life in 2021 is looking up.

And G-d Answered Me

The responsibility of naming a child has always felt really big to me.
This is the name that is going to represent the child and how they’re going to be known.
I want to get it right, but what the hell do I know ?

When I gave birth to our daughter we were sitting in the hospital together going through our options before @ezwass went to officially name her. We knew Leah would be part of the name, after @ezwass grandmother and my great grandmother, and we were trying to figure out the first name.
I wanted Ilana. I thought it was really pretty and feminine but @ezwass wasn’t connecting to Ilana.
He kept asking me, “What’s the meaning of Ilana? It means a tree, how does that connect to us?”
( If @ezwass knew I would one day give myself the title of #crazyplantlady, maybe he would have felt differently. )
And I just kept answering him, very slowly like when trying to convince a toddler to share a cookie with you, “because I like it.”

“What about Eliana? Eliana means G-d answered me.”
And I looked at him and thought, how did you know?

Here I am at the age of 25 years old, two and a half years after getting divorced with the belief that failure was my path in life. I remember being 22 years old, separated at the time, crying to myself and to G-d, asking for peace. I was asking for the better end of this experience because I was too young and insecure to handle what this meant for me. I felt unworthy and craved acceptance. My solution at the time was to hide. I thought hiding would make it go away, but it was all still there to greet me when I showed myself again.
Now it’s two and a half years later and I’m holding a baby girl. I didn’t think it was possible for me to produce anything female after growing up with 6 brothers.
Here I am, at 25 years old, after getting divorced, after hiding myself, after starting to find myself, holding my baby girl, sitting next to the man I love, feeling accepted.
If G-d could speak, it felt like He had spoken and He answered me. He answered me through @ezwass.

Today Eliana Leah is 9 years old. (kah)

I spent the week preparing for her birthday. Naturally I asked @dlnew to bake a cake because my mother gave me many skills but cooking is most definitely not one of them #loveyouingrid.
After asking @dlnew to bake a cake, these are the type of questions I asked her.

What is icing? What is frosting? Why do we need both? What are we using it for? Does it make sense for the frosting to be watery? I bought the frosting but it’s not kosher, do they make kosher frosting?
Are you making a cake or a cookie ? It turns out, she made a cake made out of a giant cookie and I am very grateful.
I tried making it easier for myself by ordering most of what I needed through instacart and instead received a lot of ‘replacement items’ which needed to be returned. So my intention for convenience turned into me standing in line by publix watching a stranger take her unwashed finger and pick something out of her teeth, all while wearing a mask.
It’s definitely safer to stay home.

Happy Birthday my first child, I love you.

This Was The Year of 2020

This was the year I started exercising every day.

This was the year I needed to get the hell out of my house every day.

This was the year I biked along the beach every morning.

This was the year a british lady called me a fat idiot ( if you want to know more about that experience, I have a detailed account of it on my blog. The title of the post is “You Fat Idiot.” )

This was the year I cried my eyes out from feelings of exhaustion.

This was the year I thought I would break over and over again and here I am seemingly not in pieces.

This was the year I stepped away from socializing and now I can’t see myself stepping back in.

This was the year I started to heal from past wounds of failure ( have we ever discussed my first marriage and divorce? No? Okay. )

This was the year I baked chocolate chip cookies with tahini and halva.

This was the year I ate tahini and halva by the spoonfuls.

This was the year I spent most of my mornings watching the sun come up.

This was the year I addressed my fear of not being enough over and over again.

This was the year I watched my parents feel isolated and heartbroken.

This was the year I felt far away from people I used to feel close to.

This was the year we drove our minivan to Canada to spend the summer by the lake.

This was the year I promised never to drive our minivan up to Canada.

This was the year that felt like time was standing still.

This was the year I realized how quickly life passes us by.

This was the year I created some beautiful moments in my home.

This was the year I renovated two bathrooms and I feel proud of myself.

This was the year an old man coughed in my face because I was biking on the walking path.

This was the year I learned assholes still exist in a pandemic.

This was the year I watched skin care tutorials for too many hours.

This was the year I bought too many skin care products and I’m thinking of making a garage sale. Who’s coming?

This was the year @ezwass worked from home and first we loved it, then I hated it and now I miss him.

This was the year I started telling my kids, “because I said so.” It’s so unwoke and I love it with all my heart.

This was the year we made Pesach on our own, without family.

This was the year I saw that we can do it.

This was the year I used my phone too much.

This was the year I started having fake conversations on vintage phones.

This was the year I accepted parts of myself I used to hide.

This was the year that people starting wearing bandanas as masks, G-D BLESS AMERICA AND ALL ITS IDIOTS.

This was the year I named caterpillars Lysol and Rona.

This was the year I lost my mind.

This was the year I feared death.

This was the year I read a book called falling apart.

This was the year I fell apart.

This was the year I put myself back together.

This was the year of 2020.

It’s My Birthday and I Want to Talk About It

My birthday has always been a bigger deal to me than it has been for everyone else in my life. My parents always tried their best. Sometimes they bought a cake, sometimes they bought a present, sometimes they said happy birthday, sometimes they remembered and sometimes I reminded them a week later.
I don’t blame them for not knowing that I always wanted a fabulous Prince Ali parade through Agrabah in order to feel like my birthday was celebrated – I was asking a lot from them. I wanted them to make a big deal over my english birthday and an even bigger deal on my Hebrew birthday. My Hebrew birthday is more meaningful because of the spiritual connection that it brings. This is the day G-d chose to bring  me into this world and I am thankful to be given this time. And shouldn’t the rest of you feel the same way?

What I’ve come to learn over the years is to create the day that I want. If I want the day to feel special, I am going to make sure I have a crown or a sash draped across my body so strangers and friends are forced to say, “happy birthday!” no matter how uncomfortable they feel by my childish decisions. I’ve spent so many years trying to justify why my birthday is a big deal and the answer is, I don’t know.
It just is.

I’m going to tell you about my 20th birthday.
I was in Israel for the year and I flew into Miami for my brother’s wedding. I arrived the night of my birthday and my mother came to pick me up. I was walking out of the terminal like Sandra Bullock
from Miss Congeniality, all wind blown and ready to for my celebration.
My mother embraced me, I embrace her and then there was this moment. I’m looking at her with wide expectant eyes and she’s looking at me with squinted, quizzical eyes.
“What’s wrong chana?”
“Do you know it’s my birthday.”
“Of course I know! I know! Look what we have for you.”
Okay, crisis averted. That was close. This was almost a really shitty night.
I walk with my mother to the back of the car and she opens the trunk. I see a balloon that says ‘happy birthday.’ The balloon had no life left inside of it because it was one of those balloons that you get from CVS, that you blow up on your own. Clearly not much effort was put into it. I was happy it said ‘happy birthday,’ it just didn’t look much like a balloon. It looked more like a string with a hazelnut attached to the end of it.
“Happy birthday chana!”
Yes happy birthday to me.

Now I’m going to tell you about my 34th birthday.
In the morning, my family and I went to the beach at sunrise for a photo shoot with @rachelfelligphotography. She was able to capture beautiful moments in between my kids complaining about how cold it was.  @rachelfelligphotography said it perfectly, “They’re like iguanas, as soon as it gets cold, they start falling out of trees.” Yes they completely fell apart in temperatures below 60 degrees.
We had coffee, we posed, we tried to relax and we watched the sun come up.
My next stop was the pool for some laps and then I sat down to write.
I had lunch delivered by a friend. I said Tehillim. I gave Tzedakah. I had family come over to spend time together.

The rest of the day was spent cleaning up from the weekend, preparing lunches and uniforms for my kids, trying to toilet train my toddler and carpooling my kids around town because they’re young and think I’m an uber driver. I’m looking to invest in a plexi glass divider for my minivan to benefit from their delusion.
The day was perfectly set in reality and at the same time felt special enough to feel celebrated.

I’m not going to let myself think about how I resisted cooking every time my kids told me they were hungry.
I don’t cook on birthdays, I’m too busy celebrating.
I’m realizing now their requests for meals came from a genuine place, they spent most of the day watching movies and eating crumbs from crackers. I do feel some guilt feel but not enough to have done anything differently.

Here’s my birthday wish to you ( today is the Hebrew so it matters; )
I wish for you to find a way to live your life that feels true to who you are and leaves less room for regret and guilt. Thia year should be the year that’s memorable for the leasons you’ve learned and the laughs you’ve shared. And above all, good health for you to continue growing and living a long and full life.
( Amen )

My english birthday is January 13. I accept balloons in all shapes and sizes. I’m just putting it out there.